While looking at engagement rings the other day, this thought crossed my mind Why do we exchange RINGS for engagement and wedding, and why do we wear them on a particular finger? I mean we could have been as well exchanging other things like bracelets, or curls of hair, or hats… So I did a bit of research and here what I’ve found.
For centuries engagement rings have been considered to be the symbol of love and loyalty. The tradition to place the engagement ring or wedding ring on the fourth finger, or “ring finger”, came to us from the times of Ancient Romans, who believed that there is a so called “vena amoris” or “vein of love” running directly from the heart to the fourth finger of the left hand. This theory has been cited in western cultures as one of the reasons the engagement ring and wedding ring was placed on this particular finger.
The earliest use of jewelry to signify a bonding was often literally chains and bracelets. There is also some evidence to suggest that the first wedding rings used by ancient peoples were actually ropes that held a woman as property. This evolved to the use of the symbolic ring. In ancient Egypt, a ring was a symbol of the the Sun and the Moon Gods, both of whom were also related to the home and hearth. The endless circle showed the eternal nature of the bond, while the open center was meant to be a doorway to things unknown.
So, the ring has always represented the eternal bond and promise of companionship. And today we still honor the plain ring as a wedding band, but the diamond engagement ring is seen as a more powerful symbol of man’s love to his bride. The diamond, being of almost indestructible nature, symbolizes eternity. At the same time, having such traits as sparkle and brilliance, diamond symbolizes the beauty of love.
Today, the diamond engagement ring is regarded by most as an essential part of the act of getting married. There are many styles, shapes and types of rings to choose from and diamonds to fit almost any budget. The modern wedding ring has spawned a global business of retailers, crafters, miners and importers. And to think it all began with a simple little bit of rope.